Saturday assorted links

Comments

3. Though I am usually friendly towards the Modi govt, I am not a fan of single payer health insurance. I think the Indian govt is better off focusing on provision of public goods, as opposed to a private good like medical care.

In general, I feel healthcare is overrated across the world. There is too much talk of taking care of the body and too little talk of taking care of the soul.

Also there isn't enough discussion on preventive care in India or even the West. Too many people across the world lead unhealthy lifestyles. This takes different forms across the world. In India, this manifests in the form of cereal addiction (rice/wheat). In the West, it is the addiction to meat and sugar.

The government must not subsidize such irresponsible lifestyles. Some people just deserve to be in poor health. They ought to pay a price for it.

Politically it is not "sexy" to popularize austerity in food. It's a lot "sexier" to announce free medical insurance.

I agree with you on the economics and the role of government. But we cannot do anything more about unhealthy lifestyles than aggressively warn people (on a different topic: the Indian government used to bombard us with population-control ads, including vasectomy recommendations, back in the early 90s; left a big impression on me.)

If you think about it, the sole purpose of health insurance is to protect people from the catastrophic consequence of unhealthy choices they make.

Modi and team talk of cultural nationalism and conservatism so much. But they understand traditional culture so poorly.

The food that people eat today is not what our great grand mothers ate in early 20th century. My great grandmother's food had little to no sugar, minimal rice, 4-5 veggies at lunch and dinner, no meat, no food that is not fresh (basically nothing that is packaged), no coffee, no alcohol.

That's what most traditional Indians ate 100 years ago. Today's conservatives have no sense of the virtues of that diet. They equate "saatvik" (virtuous) food with vegetarianism. That's a gross dumbing down of what saatvik means. Eating Kurkures and Aloo parathas isn't Saatvik food

As far as I know, they did eat a fair amount of rice (and consumed coffee, though in limited quantities.) I believe we are talking about the same part of the country.

Their lifespans were also shorter than ours are today. And I'm talking about the people who made it out of childhood and never got hit with an infectious disease. So I'm not sure that the "traditional" diet provides too much more value than our modern diets do.

Coffee was a lot more limited. Rice was more limited than what is consumed today.

Lifespans were shorter partly because of the total absence of healthcare, including vaccinations. And no early diagnosis of diseases. That's not quite true today, even for the poorer sections of society.

Cancer rates, Coronary heart disease rates, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases were much rarer in 1920 than they are today

"If you think about it, the sole purpose of health insurance is to protect people from the catastrophic consequence of unhealthy choices they make"

Think much?

Health insurance protects people from the consequences of of genetic diseases & catastrophic accidents.

Read the Kenneth Arrow paper on health insurance?

I accept your corrections. I made a flippant offhand comment. But I still believe that awareness of a safety net induces somewhat more reckless behavior.

Is jumping out of airplanes an unhealthy lifestyle choice or a development of a necessary skill for the preservation of a free people?

There are portions of healthcare that are public goods - anything epidemical.

Relatedly, I saw a complaint last week that was something like "why doesn't Silicon Valley work on the opioid epidemic rather than all these stupid apps."

Well, maybe an epidemic is a closer match to a public, rather than a private concern.

(On single payer, I say great, as long as it is multiple provider, and vouchers etc allow market competition on quality of care.)

"provision of public goods, as opposed to a private good like medical care"

Ie, roads only between factories, military bases, and ports because you will get around as an individual by hiking and riding horse back and using pack mules because you personally don't need no stinking government transportation.

I grew up in the military industrial complex era, what JK Galbraith called the Industrial State, when healthy, fit, educated citizens were critical to defeating the Red Menace. Winning required strong industry and strong military. Strong industry required healthy educated workers. Strong military required healthy fit educated service men and women. Making sure all kids got educated and healthy and fit was a national public good.

That was a big reason for school lunch and mandated physical education in public schools, as well as public health like vaccinations, checking for TB, lice, etc. Showers in schools with every student required to shower was about more than washing off sweat.

I grew up mostly in Indiana which in the 50s and 60s was rather "libertarian", not exactly conservative, and definitely not "liberal".

"There is too much talk of taking care of the body and too little talk of taking care of the soul."
Nothing holier than deny people (poor) healthcare because one is veeery concerned about their souls ah, and healthcare costs money.

So any time you don't give someone something for free, you are denying it to them? I am denying you transportation, you are denying me shelter?

3. Southern India faces a diabetes epidemic, as well as a coronary disease epidemic. It is not surprising given the rice gluttony that exists. Northern India in my view enjoys better health thanks to healthier choice of cereals (wheat over rice), greater intake of veggies, and lower meat intake than the South.

I would prefer Modi to sermonize on better food choices, than on spending the tax payer's money to provide insurance.

I would prefer Modi to sermonize on better food choices, than on spending the tax payer’s money to provide insurance.

It's not an either-or. No modern society will be willing to sit by and let people deteriorate and die without doing anything about it on the grounds that they brought it on themselves.

That's where I differ. Because deep down I reject many aspects of modernity. I am an "ancient" at heart.

People ought to pay the price for their actions. If they don't that is in a way against the will of "God".

Friedman's remark on there being "no free lunch" is in a way a theistic observation. If you believe in a good God, then there should not be a free lunch. If there is a free lunch, then that's against the idea of virtue (and God).

People ought to pay the price for their actions.

I agree with you in general. But outcomes do not always follow actions in deterministic ways. And there is something called luck.

The "ancients" didn't just let people die without doing anything about it either. Family provided the social safety net that governments these days try to provide.

You are using families and governmentn as though they are interchangeable.

Families care for their people as they have a stake in them. An emotional attachment. Why should I care for a stranger, particularly when his own son doesnt care for him?

If you wont take care of your father, why should I ? Why should I care for him more than you do?

Shrikanthk, the point is that this notion of people being left to suffer on their own for all of their poor choices has more to do with Herbert Spencer or Ayn Rand than any ancient wisdom. Magnanimity, charity, and mercy are virtues and we are just quibbling over the details of how best to implement those virtues in society.

Indeed, I suspect the Shri Vaishnavas of yore would consider shrikanth's attempt to pass of Ayn Randism as what they believed the inevitable moral corruption of Kaliyuga.

Austerity, Prudence, Restraint are greater virtues than magnanimity and charity in most religious traditions. Atleast in mine (brahminical hinduism)

I understand that Abrahamic religions talk up magnanimity and charity more. But even Christianity places a high emphasis on self restraint and austerity and suffering / atonement, which cannot be brushed aside.

In the classical pre-Christian tradition, magnanimity does not rank among the 4 cardinal virtues identified by Aristotle. The Cardinal virtues are Justice, Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude.

Magnanimity is missing here.

Even the early Church fathers like St Ambrose and later Aquinas in the late middle ages embraced the cardinal virtues.

"Austerity, Prudence, Restraint are greater virtues than magnanimity and charity in most religious traditions. Atleast in mine (brahminical hinduism)."

Pretty sure you made this up yourself. No text on dharma talks about tapah (austerity) and damah (self-restraint) without kshama (forgiveness and compassion for all beings) and danam (charity). And no the latter aren't inferior virtues. Quite the opposite. Your entire understanding is messed and frankly inverted because of your attempts to fuse Ayn Randism with dharma. To be fair you aren't alone in this. Liberals try to fuse liberalism with dharma for instance.

In the off chance that you are really interested in deeper understanding, search for the 'Handbook of Shri Vaishnavism' written by the Acharyas of your sect of brahminical Hinduism and ctrl+F 'charity'. Get back to me after you understand how they rank adroha, anugraha and danam relative to the rest (spoiler: the essence of dharma). And of course you can always say those old monks don't know what they are talking about or it's just elaborate Taqiyya to save face in front of white people while the truth is that Vyasa re-incarnated as Ayn Rand. The only solution in that case is to read primary texts for yourself. Maybe start with an actual law code or smriti like Manavadharmashastra. Lets see how you will tolerate nonsense someone else is saying after that. Satyam bruyat priyam bruyat. Om Shanti/Peace.

@shrikanthk:

Families care for their people as they have a stake in them. An emotional attachment. Why should I care for a stranger, particularly when his own son doesnt care for him?

The level of caring can be debated, but there's to be no caring outside of family, a society can never scale up. Modern nation-states are built on the assumption (and maybe even proscription) that citizens ought to care for each others' welfare. The globalist project (seen through ethical eyes and not through those of the "Davos men") is built on the assumption that humans all around the planet have a common stake in keeping the earth inhabitable, and that solving large-scale problems requires cooperation that will never be achieved if we don't care to some extent for each other.

Lot of good things (at least what I regard as good things) cannot be realized if people choose not to care at all for anyone outside their families. Like the rule of law (what incentive do I have to obey the rules if my primary goal is to secure maximal advantage for my family), or trade (what stops me from breaching a contract). Etc.

@kris
+1
You'll like this https://devayasna.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/civilization-coordination-and-belonging/

I am all for caring for people outside families.

My point is simple - What is the moral case for the government to compel me to pay for your dad's social security, while you yourself don't care for him enough. (pardon me for sounding "personal"...all of this is rhetorical as you doubtless understand).

Don't you owe more to your father than I do? Which conception of justice can demand that both of us to contribute the same amount to his welfare?

D :

As per Manu, the five cardinal virtues are -

Ahimsa (Non-violence), Dama (self restraint), Asteya (Non-covetousness/Non-stealing), Saucha (inner purity), Satyam (truthfulness)

Magnanimity and indiscriminate charity are missing here.

If you look at the Hindu conception of sins - the greatest sins are :
Kama (lust / desire), Krodha (anger), lobha (greed), Mada (ego), Moha (attachment / infatuation), Matsarya (jealousy)

Again the emphasis here is on personal conduct and personal virtue. Not on throwing money away at random parties indiscriminately.

'Magnanimity and indiscriminate charity are missing here.'

What you listed are the Yamas (or the restraints). They are not cardinal virtues or any such thing and are complimentary to and incomplete without the Niyamas (the Do's, literally means the law in most Indian languages). Yama and Niyama constitute the two-fold law of Dharma (dviprakaram dharma in gitabhashya of Shankara). They are both equally important and equally prescribed by the scriptures as Medhatithi explains in his Manubhashya (always read an authoritative commentator; otherwise its trivial to miss context like you have done here).

It is true that you can't steal or lie or kill all day long and expect to get away just by following Niyamas (though even here the superiority of Danam in washing away all sins is stressed as in the Dana Dharma Parva of Mahabharata). In that sense the Yamas maybe considered the bare and obligatory minimum. Even sticking with Yama, Kshama (forgiveness) and Daya (Kindness/Compassion) make it to most lists.
"The most often mentioned Yamas are – Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (non-falsehood, truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Mitahara (non-excess in food, moderation in food), Kșhamā (non-agitation about suffering, forgiveness), Dayā (non-prejudgment, compassion) are among the widely discussed Yamas.[2]"

And yes several smritis include Danam as a Yama like Yajnavalkya who lists:

"Celibacy, Compassion, Forgiveness, Charitableness, Truthfulness, Straightforwardness, Harmlessness, Non-appropriation of other’s property, Sweet disposition and Self-control."

Now don't mistake these variances as somehow implying major doctrinal differences. The authors followed their own logical thought processes and had varying contexts in which they operated. Why Yajnavalkya (who was in fact far more influential than Manu in medieval Indian jurisprudence) expanded his list more than Manu is an open question. Perhaps Manu thought a person who is non-covetous would be charitable by definition and so including Danam would be redundant in the Yama list so stressed on it elsewhere (i.e as a Niyama).

Giving away randomly and indiscriminate compassion are all strawmans. These are the provenance of gods and not men. Both Vishnu and Shiva are sources of infinite compassion and grace going so far as fighting the agents of hell and escorting the depraved and vile to heaven (Ajamila and Sowmini) who were saved beacuse they did the most insignificant thing for them and quite unintentionally. The "ancients" sure messed up when such tales are among the most popular part of the canon (Bhagavatam and Shiva Purana), didn't they? What about making people facing the consequences of their actions? (Ayn Rand lamented).

In bhuloka, the gifts depend on the giver and the reciever. The rule of thumb is that you give what you have to those who don't have it. The vipra can gift knowledge, the raja land etc (and as is typical in such things, those who give land away become kings, those who give knowledge become vipra, those who give food and water are always satisfied). That the householder (who is the most productive of the classes and thus most wealthy in an economic sense) is injunctioned (niyama) by Manu to everyday take only the food that is left after all his servants, dependants and even frikking animals are fed and satiated should give you some sense of the importance placed on Danam as a virtue.

The texts you harp on - be it Manu smriti (with Medathithi's bhashya or otherwise), or Bhagavad Purana / Shiva Purana tales - are at best having Smriti status and are not irreproachable texts.

Let's look at Shruti texts - this includes the Upanisads. The Brihadaranyaka Upanisad is categorical in linking Phala to Karma. This is straight out of Brihadaranyaka Upanisad (7th century BCE), a text far more important to hinduism than a smriti text like Manu shastra -

"And here they say that a person consists of desires,
and as is his desire, so is his will;
and as is his will, so is his deed;
and whatever deed he does, that he will reap"

Note the last line. Wathever deed he does, he will reap.

This notion is reinforced in Gita, though Gita also brings in fatalism to suggest that actions don't always determine phala (outcome). But none of the Shruti texts advocate external intervention to prevent people from facing up to the consequences of their actions.

Sure. There is room for Danam (charity). But charity must be directed to those who are suffering for no fault of their own. Not those who have brought suffering upon themselves.

Aah so now the most holiest of scriptures for Vaishnavas and Shaivas have "at best smriti status." I don't know about you but Vaishnavas consider Bhagavatam (the text as such) the earthly embodiment of Krishna himself. They defend Manu too and do not throw everything that doesn't jive with their pre-conceieved notions instantly under the bus. If you want to bring up Upanishads, do that. To which I would say these smritis that I harp on have been far more influential than some random verse from an Upanishad. This is very reminiscent of the people that quote this and that from Vedas and say "look! they eat beef! They drink alcohol and do drugs! Yay! Lets do the same."

Perhaps you might be willing to consider that the smriti authors that you deride for apparently not knowing shruti, were in fact devoted to and aware of it far in excess of a random bit from BriUp. And then the question becomes why they say what they do. The uncomfortable answer might be that maybe law of karma and dharma in general isn't the darwinian/Nietzschian/Ayn Randian dream (horror show) that you think it is.

I dioubt that rice has anything to do with it. As I understand it, cuisine in southern Indian uses a lot more simple sugars than other parts of India. Simple sugars cause oxidative stress on the vascular endothelium (the one-cell-thick lining of the blood vessels). Consensus opinion is that cardiovacular disease begins with endothelial dysfunction. There's a strong body of evidence suggestiing type 2 diabetes also arises from endothelial dysfunction. It's the sweet stuff that's killing you, not the complex carbohydrates like steamed rice.

+1

Also, I thought this rice is better than wheat meme was discredited a long time ago. Giving up wheat is what health-conscious people do nowadays (Search for wheat belly, gluten etc).

Sorry 'the wheat is better than rice meme'.

A lot depends on the kind of rice and wheat that you eat.

Polished white rice has little nutritional value and has very high glycemic index. Its consumption is a diabetes risk factor. And Southern Indians consume white rice in humongous proportions. Go to a small restaurant in Andhra Pradesh or Tamil Nadu to understand what I am saying. I am not opposed to rice consumption per se. I consume rice everyday, like most south indians. But the quantities matter. And in the south, the gluttony is too obvious to any onlooker.

Wheat, especially whole grain wheat, has much lower glycemic index than rice. Maida is terrible. But north indians for the most part consume healthier forms of wheat and not maida.

Is white rice bad in itself, or in the large proportions people eat? BTW......Bengalis, Biharis, Oriyas typically eat unpolished rice, also in large proportions. What's your opinion of their diets?

Unpolished rice is better than white rice anyday.

I grew up on white rice and can't give it up too easily. But I eat in pretty small quantities.

I can understand people with gluten allergies avoiding wheat, but why is it bad for everyone else?

From personal experience, I can attest to a wheat-based diet being better for one's waistline compared to a rice-based one, all other things being equal.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-ways-wheat-can-destroy-your-health

@Mark Thorson:

What foods contain these simple sugars? Can you list some examples?

I would be very skeptical of all these pseudo-scientific claims about food. The ‘consensus’ that Mark talks about claimed for years that eggs, butter, coffee etc were bad until now it’s the exact reverse. Nutrition is the poster child for the irreproducibility crisis.

Yeah, Mark may be referring to the hypoglycemic index. There are lists all over the web and some high carbo foods such as potatoes, white bread, white rice, and obviously sugar are deemed to be less healthy than whole grain foods and brown rice and of course vegetables and most fruits.

Which has a certain commonsense appeal. But as GJ says, just wait about 15 or 20 years and many of today's truisms will reverse themselves. We don't know what really happens nutritionally. Or in a lot of other health areas, for me the tipping point was when the health experts said "Remember all those years how we told you to avoid direct sunlight? Now we're telling you to get some sunlight, but only a little."

So I just try to follow a middle-of-the-road approach in particular a varied diet.

There's also these lines from Woody Allen's movie "Sleeper" (note that in recent years dark chocolate has been touted for containing anti-oxidants, and the current carbs-are-bad-fats-are-okay nutritional fads):

Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk."

Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.

Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?

Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.

Dr. Melik: Incredible.

#1: I think the reviewer is being pedantic about the definition of a "network". As a sociologist, he may well have the right to, but then Ferguson can also define the term however he chooses, as long as he remains consistent throughout the book (which I haven't read.) Computer scientists consider the Internet (or subsets of it) as a network, even though some nodes are decidedly more important than others (that's why, for example, an attack on DNS can disrupt communication on a worldwide scale.) Parts of the internet can be modeled as "a hub and spokes". Some nodes are more important as they act as key conduits but play no directive role; their absence will disrupt a network but their presence does not distort that network either.

5. One of the most tone-deaf pieces I've read in a while. The author never really addresses the issue, just scaremongers about libertarians.

Isn't the bigger claim that "right to try" is a nothingburger?

Maybe it sounded great in the abstract, and in libertarian-leaning editorials, but there aren't so many useful drugs out there, previously unavailable, suddenly ready to try.

But laetrile remains market ready - 'In the 1970s, court cases in several states challenged the FDA's authority to restrict access to what they claimed was a potentially lifesaving drugs. More than twenty states passed laws making the use of Laetrile legal.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdalin#Advocacy_and_legality_of_laetrile

Yes, that is a sad aspect. Some number of people will go off doctor and FDA recommended drugs, and on to herbals, homeopathy, etc

This. DAD has a program to let people get experimental drugs and almost all requests are approved in less than 48 hours. The problem is that neither drug companies nor docs want to give our medicines that haven't been proven. This leg will yield no benefit at all for patients and will harm many

"Although 99 percent of compassionate-use requests are approved by FDA, Goldwater’s Coleman said they “were shocked” to find out only 1,000 patients use that program every year, despite more than half a million Americans dying annually from cancer alone. They concluded that FDA’s process was “inadequate,” Coleman said."

Sorry, FDA, not DAD.

True, but the other side would argue this. The paperwork takes between 2 and 20 hours to fill out (depending on whom you ask) and Your a doc whose payment model hinges on 15 minutes per patient visit.

What percentage of doctors would agree to fill out the forms? One? Two?

Right to try requires nothing from your doctor but a prescription

It is literally a two page form. There is no way it can take more than an hour to fill out.

1. Here's an interview of Niall Ferguson at Hoover on the same -

https://www.hoover.org/research/niall-fergusons-square-and-tower

I'm most of the way through the book at the moment. I'm not likely to read it all a second time, but there are bits I'll revisit. I predict that now, or soon, Mr Ferguson will be embarrassed about what he had to say about Trump. If the historian's first duty is to be sceptical he's got no business reciting the Trump-&-the-Russians rubbish. Nor would his remarks really serve any useful purpose even if allegations of an Awful Conspiracy were true; not enough time elapsed to let anyone see the affair in historical context. It's an odd blunder by a chap of his powers. Perhaps his powers are waning.

If he ever produces a second edition I urge him not to replace Trump-&-the-Russians by Obama-Hillary-&-the-Russians: it is always almost a mistake to intrude current affairs into a book on history.

Be serious.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/opinion/leaving-the-fbi.html

This is serious stuff, not a "you say 'Trump,' we say 'Hillary'" game.

The _ cries out in pain as he strikes you.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/19/hitler-really-did-have-only-one-testicle-german-researcher-claims

lol, thanks for the laugh prior.

Yeah, I’d be pretty disillusioned too if I learned my boss’s boss’s boss spent his whole day discussing partisan politics with his mistress. 50,000 emails, really?? You can’t make this stuff up.

Don't give me straw. Give me steel. What is the strongest argument that misbehavior occured with investigators, and not with already indicted and/or cooperating conspirators in the Russia investigation?

As I say, be serious.

(There were not 50,000 emails, there were really a lot of text messages, that the WSJ reviewed in full, and (free market Republicans though they are) found
harmless.)

Sorry, 50,000 text messages on partisan politics with his mistress, I stand corrected. I see you’re a prolific commenter so maybe that doesn’t strike you as a big investment of (work) time but it does to me, as someone who is not employed in government; you don’t see a problem there?

Come on buddy, do a little work. 7000 texts, and not "steel"

Ungated version.

https://www.axios.com/wsj-fbi-texts-1517601011-b7fd96d3-2c08-49b7-921c-96985963a029.html

Gosh, sounds like you’re still back in the day when they thought 90% were deleted. There were 50,000 http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/justice-department-inspector-general-finds-missing-fbi-texts-between-peter-strzok-lisa-page/article/2647061
Now I’m disillusioned about the quality of commenters on this blog, partisan hacks.

The 7K is the newer story. But talk about going down a troll hole. I asked for steel, and you are going with "coworkers also having an affair texted a lot."

Straw.

Hmm, come on, the ‘later article’ said the WSJ reviewed 7K messages, not that that was the total. And re straw and steel, are you seriously thinking of having an in-depth discussion about the Russia investigation in this venue? You may have the time and energy but I don’t, let’s wait a few more months of official investigations for that. If you recall I simply stated I understand why there would be low morale at the FBI given the lack of professionalism of their leaders. Next thing you’ll tell me is that you were horrified that Comey was fired since you approved so much of his email investigation.

Waiting for the official investigation is awesome, but if you look up, that is not what "dearieme" was counseling. I think he was riding memo fever, and looking for a chance to defuse that investigation right now.

Luckily the memo was so poor .. Paul Ryan tried to cut its medical insurance.

"he was riding memo fever": could be - since I have no idea what you mean.

"looking for a chance to defuse that investigation right now": I don't know what you are driving at. In case of doubt I'd be entirely happy if half the FBI ended up in chokey for their behaviour, and doubtless more and worse misbehaviour in the past. It seems that the old loony left was correct to entertain deep suspicions about the FBI. I suppose its descendants have now chosen to view the FBI as a troop of veray parfit gentil knights because now they control it, which makes it a clean different thing.

That is loony itself, including the very credulous belief that the FBI is now somehow left.

Most of these principals are lifelong Republicans, appointed to their positions by Republican presidents.

But since the tweets say otherwise, you just mob along.

GOP Trump defenders have picked the wrong fight.

“There’s a lot of anger. The irony is it’s a conservative-leaning organization, and it’s being trashed by conservatives. At first it was just perplexing. Now there’s anger, because it’s not going away.”

https://t.co/0oDDbVukJd

Interesting NYT article. " remaining quiet while the bureau is tarnished for political gain is impossible." Why did he wait 9 years?

Speaking of which, whatever happened to this story? https://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/obama-hezbollah-drug-trafficking-investigation/
(DOJ not FBI). A few weeks ago a lot of interest, now impossible to see any follow up. The idea that these government departments are apolitical is ludicrous.

As is the idea that the FBI is a ‘conservative-leaning organization’. I recall that the Fed govt area of VA was the most partisan of any in the country (something like 95% pro Hillary) more than NY and San Francisco. So hard to believe FBI employees were different. The problem with partisan politics, it makes hypocrites of us all.

I think for 9 years he had confidence in the "keep your head down and do the work" ethos, and really that should have been enough. We want an FBI that does the work and tries to avoid political fights.

As to where we stand now, there is a good guy position, and I don't thing it aligns with obstruction.

http://www.nydailynews.com/amp/opinion/cowardly-complicit-congress-article-1.3796038

#2: I assume they want citizens to purchase these houses, and that this is not a call for immigration?

false, depopulation in some part of South Italy is such a problem that the mayors give "free" houses to refugee families with children so they can keep the local school and kindergarden open.

My wife and I are very tempted. Life is so much more beautiful in Italy...

It's the South, mind, not Tuscany or Umbria.

3. Modicare === Medicaid

Medicaid is government single payer health care covering 80 million Americans, which would cover 100 million if the Red States implemented Medicaid expansion as intended.

Thus Modicare is modest, covering a smaller share of India's population than Medicaid circa 1970 when conservatives States still had not implemented Medicaid.

5. It will change nothing because patients already have a right to try any drug drug inventors are willing to provide. The problem for drug companies is bad publicity is death to asset prices, so giving away, or worse, selling at a profit, a drug that kills the patients it's supposed to cure will destroy 100-200% of the inflated equity price of the drug company, making the managers poor.

Imagine Elon Musk running a drug company. He does not cash his minimum wage income check so they are donated to the California Treasurer unclaimed money fund, and he gets absolutely nothing if bad news about a drug that someone paid $100,000 for dies, even if they die by standing on their Harley going 100mph because they feel so great. Conservatives will claim Elon is selling pot that makes people insane, and short sellers will be demanding the FDA shut his drug company down. After all, the guy in Florida who was speeding down a Florida highway ignoring the alarms to keep his hands on the wheel is still brought up by Tesla short sellers trying to get Tesla shutdown by government. And Tesla shares are only prices at about twice the cost of Tesla capital assets (factories, inventory, leased vehicles, solar roofs, etc, charging staations and service centers) while many "wonder drug" drug company shares are priced at 5-10 times asset costs.

No legal liability does not mean protection from share price crashing and reputation loss. Elizabeth Holmes having zero liability for her wonder testing does not mean the failures of her tech has not cost her and everyone involved billions of dollars.

Anyone want to argue a thousand Theranos blooming would be a great thing?

'The “right-to-try” movement advances'

And another step closer to a world where laetrile will finally be available to all the people dying to try it because the FDA keeps them from buying it.

But who knew that the future of medicine included homeopaths - 'The movement was born in 2013, when a chain of for-profit hospitals called Cancer Treatment Centers of America requested a meeting with Goldwater. CTC’s business is built on selling patients high-priced infusion drugs, including personalized genomic therapies, along with complementary services like homeopathy and herbal and botanical products that lack evidence to support their use. The company raised concerns that the current FDA approval process is not set up to handle the future of medicine, where individuals may require custom-tailored drugs that haven't gone through FDA approval.'

And to reference a movie scene -

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

Benjamin: Yes, I am.

Mr. McGuire: Bach flower therapy.

Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in Bach flower therapy. Think about it. Will you think about it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bach_flower_remedies

The question is: who will be master? That is all.

Has the Modi government actually accomplished anything? It looks to have wasted its opportunity for substantive reform much like Sarkozy's government did in France.

The national sales tax was a significant accomplishment. Not as good as it could have been, but better than what it replaced.

5. Truth be known, many of those who support right to try are hoping the human guinea pigs will help find a cure for a disease they might one day face. Better them than me. My brother participated in a drug trial that likely accelerated his death, but he was going to die anyway and he was willing to take an informed risk. I'm not sure those sick children who get paraded up in front of politicians and media are taking an informed risk. What is often overlooked is another kind of risk, the risk that people will lose confidence in the safety of drugs and avoid them altogether, much like the parents who avoid vaccines for their children. It's easy to be a critic of an agency, the FDA, whose success at preventing an unsafe drug from getting to market is all but unknowable; indeed, how many thousands, millions perhaps, have lived because the FDA prevented an unsafe drug from getting to market. We will never know. I find it ironic that some economists would prefer chance to the scientific method just because the scientific method is being applied by a government agency. That they despise government so much they would prefer children be used as guinea pigs is appalling.

+1

"how many thousands, millions perhaps, have lived because the FDA prevented an unsafe drug from getting to market. We will never know."

Rather the opposite. That is fairly knowable compared to the many thousands, certainly millions who have died because the FDA prevented an effective drug from getting to market.

"I find it ironic that some economists would prefer chance to the scientific method just because the scientific method is being applied by a government agency."
??? What?

"That they despise government so much they would prefer children be used as guinea pigs is appalling."
The question is only this: who shall be master? I get that you think someone needs to make other peoples' choices for them, but maybe you wouldn't like it so much if someone else was making your choices for you. And it's not a good argument to say that the choice they make for you is the choice you would have made anyway- Trump is after all the president. That can easily change.

There haven't been many big bang achievements. Maybe other Indian commenters can chip in too.

In my view the biggest positive development has been the reduction in corruption at high places. The government is perceived to be clean. And is seldom in the news pages for the wrong reasons. In general the credibility of the Indian government has gone up. The Prime minister is almost unanimously perceived as a man of very high personal virtue and integrity (even by his detractors).

To my mind, the above point is the biggest change in the past 4 years.

In terms of policy measures it has been a mixed bag. I think GST is a big win though the credit for that cant go to just this government but also the previous government.

Jan-Dhan Yojana, a policy that involved opening of several million bank accounts for the hitherto unbanked, in my view was a big deal. TIll date the total balance in these Jan Dhan accounts is $11billion USD. That's huge by any standards. A big step towards financial inclusion and expansion of credit.

Demonetization was well intended, but badly hampered by both a botched implementation as well as dampening features like the 2000 Re note, reintroduction of 500 Re note among other things. I don't think it had a positive effect on the whole. Though its ill effects have been overstated.

Swacch Bharat was another major initiative with largely positive results, which haven;t been highlighted enough. There have been massive increases in access to sanitation and toilets as well as toilet use, coupled with a massive reduction in open defecation rates.

Among the disappointments - Probably the foremost has been the total silence on disinvestment in recent years. Disinvestment and privatisation were major major attention grabbing topics of "reform" in the Vajpayee years some 15 years ago. The process has stalled for the most part. There is no sign of the government getting out of commercial banking. That's a disappointment.

I don't see much action on reformation of labor laws either.

Sorry...this was in reply to Ali Choudhary's comment

Swacch Bharat was another major initiative with largely positive results, which haven;t been highlighted enough. There have been massive increases in access to sanitation and toilets as well as toilet use, coupled with a massive reduction in open defecation rates.

I would love it if this were true, but Bharat doesn't look any more Swacch to me now than it did 4 years ago. Do you have any citations, any links to reports? (Perhaps they have been focusing on areas I've never seen and probably am unlikely to see for myself.)

The government is perceived to be clean.

Does perception conform to reality? Again, I'd be happy to believe this is if there's good evidence. As for corruption, ordinary Indians are a lot more concerned about "petty" corruption that affects them in their daily lives. That can't be fixed without extensive institution-strengthening, and it can't be fixed in 4 years period, though it'd be good to know if the administration considers that a priority.

Real meaningful changes in India would involve a massive increase in "federalism", or a devolution of political power down to the states and the districts, with the center running an military and a judiciary and little else. Also, massively reducing the government's role in the economy, letting the free market take over, loosening or eliminating import/export controls, loosening labor laws, etc. That's what we expect from a "right-wing" government. Otherwise, what we get is just Congress plus cow-fanaticism.

"Otherwise, what we get is just Congress plus cow-fanaticism."

That's an odd remark. As the Modi government has had nothing to do with cow fanaticism. You are conflating your prejudices against local events / trends with the Modi government.

"Do you have any citations, any links to reports?"

Here is one, from a source not known to be friendly to the Modi govt -

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/at-the-half-way-mark-4774680/

"The last three years have seen an increase from 42 per cent to 65.02 per cent in national sanitation coverage. Five states, 149 districts and 2.08 lakh villages have already been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Nearly 22 per cent of the cities and towns have been declared ODF; 50 per cent of the urban wards have achieved 100 per cent door-to-door solid waste collection; and over 20,000 Swachhagrahi volunteers are working across urban local bodies, and over a lakh are working in rural India. The number of schools with separate toilet facilities for girls has increased from 0.4 million (37 per cent) to almost one million (91 per cent)."

"Bharat doesn’t look any more Swacch to me now than it did 4 years ago"

To my mind that seems like a prejudice driven, data free remark :) Not in keeping with your generally rational, sensible tone!

"Again, I’d be happy to believe this is if there’s good evidence"

There can be no evidence of "less corruption". The government is definitely less in the news for the wrong reasons than UPA. And that's the best evidence you can get.

"Real meaningful changes in India would involve a massive increase in “federalism”,"

This is the exact opposite of the perception people have of India. Indian development is greatly straitjacketed and constrained by its deeply federalistic structure, too much power to the states, and a relatively weak central government compared to say other countries like US or China. Even Tyler Cowen, a libertarian economist who shares your world view for the most part, has remarked on the deeply decentralized federalistic nature of India as being a handicap!

To my mind that seems like a prejudice driven, data free remark

Sorry if that sounded snarky. I thought I made it clear it was based on my personal observations, and I was open to changing my opinions given more data. To me, Swacchata implies people (1) not doing their business in the open, (2) being careful and respectful of others even if they are doing it inside, say in a public toilet, (3) not dumping garbage wherever they want, or perhaps just out of sight of their houses. On all of these counts, I haven't seen any change, at least in the areas I have lived in (I have moved a couple of times recently.)

Thanks for the Indian Express link. If such work can be maintained, that is indeed good news.

How many of the murdering gau-rakshaks have been arrested and convicted? Is it not a national disgrace that people can openly commit murder and not be punished for it? Is that not an indictment of the government? if people want the killing of cows or the eating of beef capital crimes, they are welcome to try, but they need to do it through the constitutional process, not through mob rule.

Federalism: Yeah, I see it's a more problematic notion than what I made it out to be in my earlier comment. What I really asked for was decentralization or devolution of executive power. I would like people at the grassroots to have a stake in who rules them locally. Our system allows for a small amount of devolution, through the election of MLAs and MPs, but then all other executive functions including law and order (the most important) are completely top-down. I think that should be changed. I do want the center to have a role in making rules for smooth commerce and migration across states and regions though, and also to build large-scale infrastructure. Something like the American system.

Yes. It is a complex topic.

Even within America, there has been a debate on this right from the years of the founding.

THe Hamilton Federalists who sought a strong forceful central government vs the Jeffersonian Republicans who sought greater state power and a weak federal government.

It's interesting that back in the 1790s, the Hamilton wing represented the "Right" and Jeffersonians represented the "Left". Today strangely the Republicans talk up "states rights" more than Democrats. I may be wrong here.

"How many of the murdering gau-rakshaks have been arrested and convicted? "

That's a state subject. Not centre.

Also there is no hard evidence that you have had mob violence only in the past 3 years. There have been riots on incidents involving cows even during Congress years.

#2 - Waidaminnit.

Doesn't Italy have its fair share of people living in the streets? Paris? Calais? Lampedusa? Germany, Sweden renting out apartments and hotels? I haven't read about mass die-offs; these people are being kept alive somehow, probably to the tune of $10,000 - 15,000 US each per year in public funds.

Governments can buy and renovate these houses. There's probably more to this story.

#2 Good to know it's not just Detroit. If Europeans all spoke the same language and was one county would parts of Germany be like Detroit and Italy be like Florida?

Totally different situation in Detroit. The people who used to live in Detroit didn't move to Florida, they moved to the suburbs.

In the Detroit area, people left the central city due to a combination of high-crime rates, high-taxes, lousy schools and city services...and racial polarization. If you want a simple summary of what happened to Detroit, it is simply 'white flight'. In 1950, there were 1.5 million whites living in the city. Over the next half century, over 95% of them moved to the suburbs (leaving only around 50,000 as of 2010 census). There's no other large American city where that happened to anything close to that degree. And the black families who moved in were poorer (and less numerous) than the white families who moved out, leaving behind a depopulated city with high poverty and crime levels and tens of thousands of empty buildings. The boom and bust cycles of the auto industry were kind of a side issue. In fact, even before the domestic industry hit the rocks for the first time in the mid 70s (following the OPEC oil embargo) half of the white population had already left.

I don't think any of those factors apply in Sardinia.

The 10 rules of Bertrand Russel. Maybe less random than all the 12 rules we've seen?
https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/05/02/a-liberal-decalogue-bertrand-russell/

Surprised that he didn’t say to delete ‘Do not commit adultery. ‘

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHZGnc9xlIk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PycKSdKG_74

#4

That is one of the saddest things I've read in a long time.

Tragic and yet, beautiful.

5. Libertarianism in our time: MOAR iatrogenic illness. On principle.

fried balogna sandwiches

rochester theater had a paramount theater, comparable to none

that was back when, you didn't have to think about over there or where abouts

#2: The US famously has shrinking cities like St Louis, Detroit, or Youngstown. The US cities regularly bulldoze abandoned homes. However, I'm sure they would give them to people that agreed to refurbish them.

5. Cigarettes in small numbers can relieve symptoms of some diseases and are cheap stimulants and anti-depressants that relieve stress. But they are regarded as a moral evil by the government and Big Pharma hates them and wants people to take their pills.

Buy a nicotine patch duh

It's not really the nicotine as much as the maoi in the smoke that have a lot of of these beneficial effects, those are the not part of nicotine patches

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